National Network of Parent Carer Forums

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NNPCFs developing work with the Department of Work and Pensions

May 20, 2018

On Tuesday 2nd May NNPCF co-chairs, Maureen Morris and Mrunal Sisodia, met with the Disabilities Minister, Sarah Newton. In our first meeting with a Minister from the Department of Work and Pensions, we introduced the work of parent carer forums and the NNPCF.

The Minister had a good understanding of the challenges that families with children and young people with SEND face, and of the significance of the Children and Families Act. We emphasised the feedback we’ve had from families about the importance of employment for young people with SEND and their families.

We shared the key concerns that our member forums have raised with us through local and regional meetings and at our preparing for adulthood workshops at our national conference last year. We described the cliff edge that families face when their children leave education; how the employment opportunities available were often poor quality with very limited choice; and how the advice and support available to families about the different pathways into employment was confusing and inadequate.

The Minister committed to working with parent carer forums and tasked her officials to look into how local job centres could tap into the knowledge and expertise of local forums. She also committed to working with the NNPCF to better understand and address the barriers that young people with SEND and their families face in getting into employment, not least the benefits traps that many face.

We have been developing a closer relationship with officials from the DWP following the discussions at our conference last year where members identified preparing for adulthood and employment as key issues. The meeting with Sarah Newton follows a series of discussions with the disability employment strategy team at the DWP, including the head of the unit attending the NNPCF steering group meeting in January this year.

West Midlands Steering Group Member, Zara Bowden, comments:

“We are delighted to see DWP officials, and the Minister, take our concerns on board and recognise the complexity and importance of providing successful employment pathways as well as other options for our SEND children. Our member forums often identify Preparation for Adulthood as one of their key concerns, with the lack of local relationships beyond colleges and adult social care cited as one of the biggest challenges. This is hopefully the beginning of a crucial relationship for parent carer forums across England.”

The Minister agreed to meet with us again in the future to review progress and we will, of course, keep our member parent carer forums, and their wider communities, updated.